Why did we do this?
We supported the creation and sharing of digital services so cities could connect with their citizens in cost-effective and engaging ways.
We were interested in which applications worked well and how the apps were being used to make the case for what works in public service applications of open data.
What did we do?
Code for Europe placed 'code fellows' (data technologists and designers) in city halls to create new citizen-led digital services, often built on open data.
We also helped to coordinate a fellowship programme, particularly in the UK. We ran workshops for fellows working in different cities to come together to share experiences, meet experts and work on joint projects.
We worked with the following partners:
We also encouraged cities to share and borrow applications from one another through Civic Exchange, a platform for sharing civic apps.
We learned a good deal about how the ‘Code for x’ model delivers greatest value:
- The model at its best involved an interdisciplinary team (coding skills, design skills, user experience) who were given both the status and freedom to explore solutions to challenges.
- There was a sweet spot for activity in the convergence of cities’ needs, developers’ ideas and citizen action.
- Intermediary organisations could play a crucial role in terms of placing Fellows in the right departments, with appropriate challenges, providing a sounding board to Fellows and connecting out to practice in other cities.
- A structured peer-to-peer model for joining up on solving civic challenges both prevented Fellows feeling like lone wolves in city departments and allowed ideas to be developed as shared solutions. We built peer teams with shared challenges more explicitly into Code for Europe in the second year of the project, and partnered up new cities with those who had hosted a Fellow.
- We saw the Code Fellows model at its best where city teams had thought hard about the full skill mix they brought to the challenge. The wider team needs to combine tech and design skills with knowledge of policy, economics and the social context.
Learn more about our findings here.
This project built on our Make it Local project, which encouraged cities in England and subsequently Scotland to open new data and use it for useful, citizen-focused services.
The project also connects to the Open Data Challenge Series, which explored how to generate public value from open data.